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officers of some cavalry regiments would study the pose on horseback of Marochetti's sculptured dragoons, or those of other eminent artists. The result would probably be a marked improvement in the position of the saddle, and, consequently, in the general coup dJoril of our cavalry, who, however, notwithstanding such minor defects, have always maintained their superiority in horsemanship, as well as in efficiency, over any other cavalry in the world.
The seat, method of holding the hands, &c., should be left to the riding-master,* with a friendly admonition to the learner to avoid the "stuck-up," one-handed principle to a great extent, and to take a lesson whenever opportunity occurs from one of the "great tintaught," t and, observing their ease and judgment in the management of their bearers, endeavour to modify their own horsemanship accordingly.
Kindness goes far in managing these noble animals.
How is it that many horses that are unmanageable with powerful and good horsemen, can be ridden with perfect ease and safety by ladies ] The first thing a lady generally does after mounting, is to reassure her
* It might not be out of place to mention, for the information of those who desire to he well taught, that, to my own knowledge, Allen's, in Seymour Place, Bryanstone Square, and Clarendon's, in Great Brunswick Street, Dublin, are excellent ridingschools.
t Those who probably have never received a professional ridinglesson in their lives, but still, from intuitive taste, ride with ease and ability.
steed by patting, or, in riding-school language, "making much of him," taking up the reins with a very light hand, and giving him his head; whereas a man usually does the very reverse; he takes a commanding hold of the reins, presses his legs into the horse as the signal for motion, perhaps with a rasp of both spurs into his sides, indicating no great amiability of temper —a state of things very likely to be reciprocated by a high-spirited horse.
As before observed, every man ought himself to be able to judge whether his horse is properly saddled and bridled. I must still inveigh against misplacement of the saddle, which grooms, it will be remarked, usually place too far forward—a mistake which is of more consequence than is generally considered.
Take a dragoon, for instance, weighing, with arms, accoutrements, and kit, from fifteen to twenty stone; this weight, if allowed to fall unduly on the fore quarter, must help to founder the charger, and bring him into trouble on the first provocation. Let him make the least stumble, and the weight of his burden, instead of being back in its proper place, with the man's assistance there to help him up, is thrown forward, keeping the beast tied down, and preventing his rising. But, taking appearances into consideration, the forward placement of the saddle is most ungraceful, reminding one of the position of an Eastern driving an elephant, seated on his bearer's neck.
I have seen the tout ensemble of a magnificent cavalry regiment strikingly deteriorated by the ungraceful and absolutely unhorsemanlike misplacement of the saddles, and consequently of the men—though the military regulation on the subject is fair enough, directing a saddle to be placed a handbreadth behind the play of the shoulder. This would, perhaps, be a slight excess in the other direction, were it not considered that, in all probability, out of a hundred troop-horses so saddled, ninety-nine would be found after an hour's trotting to have shifted the saddle fomvard, for one on whom it would have remained stationary or gone back.
It is well known that no rider should ever go fast down hill on the road, or round a corner, especially on pavement; but in the field, hunting or racing, down-hill is the place to make play.
In the absence of an attendant to hold for mounting, some horses are allowed to contract a habit that is liable to cause accidents, of starting before the rider is comfortably seated in the saddle. Prevent this bad fashion by gathering the snaffle-rein (not the curb) tightly up before mounting, and when across the saddle, and before the right leg is in the stirrup, check any effort to move off.
When a horse is alarmed, nothing so effectually reassures him as speaking to him. I have myself experienced the efficacy of gently using my voice on two or three occasions, when I admit' having been run away with for a short time.
Though a horse ought never to be allowed to have his own way, his rider should try every means before resorting to actual punishment or fight, which may be sometimes unavoidable as the only chance of conquest.
An animal requiring such treatment should be handed over to the rough-rider for subsequent teaching, if not disposed of for more suitable employment than that of a gentleman's horse.
Your bearer should not be allowed to keep a perpetual lean upon your hand, more particularly when walking. Should he stumble while thus leaning, he is not likely to recover himself, but will fall helplessly on his knees.
Keep him as self-dependent as possible, though not with a rein so slack as to leave him to himself altogether. It is the business or amusement of the rider to be on the alert for all casualties.*
To make a horse change his foot in canter, if you find it difficult to do so by merely using hand and leg, turn him as if to circle towards that side that you require the foot to lead—he will use the foot forward that you wish in order to prop himself in turning. Thus, if you circle round to the right, he will lead with the off fore foot; and if you turn to the left, the near fore will be advanced.
In using a curb, the rider should remember that if it is properly placed, with a fair leverage, rough-handling of the lower or bit rein may drive a fine-tempered animal into a state of great irritation, or even prove an incentive to rearing; t and directly anything lite this
* Talking of a horse being self-dependent in his movement on the road, puts me in mind of a challenge once accepted by a very practical horseman, to ride a notorious stumbler (reduced by this defect to mere farm-work) three times round Stephen's Green, Dublin (a distance of over three miles), without falling. Given his choice of bits, some being of the severest kind, he rejected them all, desiring the groom to get him a common hemp halter, and with this simple head-gear, riding bare-backed, he accomplished the distance without the slightest mishap, and thereby won a large bet. The groom, however, resumed the use of the bit to ride the horse home (now feeling sufficient confidence to trust himself on his back instead of leading him), when the animal fell on his knees before he had gone a hundred yards.
t The incautious use of that rein, which has leverage on the curb, is very apt, with young unformed horses, or such as have been only accustomed to the bridoon or snaffle, to induce a notion of rear